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Solar Panels and What to Know

Between the growing climate change problem and the increased efficiency in alternative energy, there are a lot of people looking to use alternative energy sources wherever they can, especially solar. There are even RV owners who want to attach solar panels to their campers. This can be a great way to go green and save money, but only for some people and only if done correctly. To help you make the right choice, Ryan’s RV Town has provided some tips for you. You can also talk to one of our experienced staff if you have more questions, so visit us today. We proudly serve Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham, Washington.

Are Solar Panels Right for You?

Start by thinking about your needs and your camping style. As eco-friendly as solar panels are, not all campers actually benefit from making the switch. At least, not right now. Think about the biggest concern that we have with solar panels here in the Pacific Northwest: there’s simply not always enough sun to make a practical amount of solar energy. Even if you travel to sunnier climates, you might run into days where you’ll experience a distinct lack of sunshine. This can leave you in the dark and make you wish you’d never switched. Because of this, even people who do decide to install solar panels usually have a backup power source just in case.

There are also financial considerations to make. Some people simply don’t travel often enough to make it worth the expense and the effort. You might as well just install them on your house and leave it at that. This will be especially true if you’ll have access to the electrical grid. Keep in mind, you won’t just need to pay for the panels themselves, but also the installation process. While this cost has come down significantly in the last several years, it may not be enough to balance out your use of it.

The people who benefit most from solar panels are dry campers, or boondockers. These are the campers who won’t be hooked up to traditional power and water supplies, so they need to come prepared with their own. If you already need alternative power sources, then you might as well invest in solar panels, especially if you’ll be hitting the road often enough to make this worth it.

Making the Right Choice

Let’s say you decide your camping style would benefit from solar panels. When you’re choosing the right panels, you’ll need to know how much power you need. You’ll need enough power to run your camper, but if you have too much power, you’ll blow a fuse. Make note of all the appliances you want to power using solar energy and then add up the wattage each one uses. This total will fall just short of your minimum requirements (it takes more energy to turn an appliance on and off and you’ll need to account for this). Then consult a solar panel expert about finding the right panels and amps for your RV.

The Battery

Along with your solar panels, you’ll need a battery to store the energy that the panels create. This can help keep your RV running, even when the sun goes behind the clouds or sets for the evening. You’ll want to get the right battery so you can make the most of your alternative power source. Standard batteries may be cheaper, but it can be well worth it to spend the extra money and get something more efficient and durable, like an AGM or Lithium-ion battery. These will also be the cheaper option in the long run, as you won’t have to replace them as quickly.

This isn’t to say solar panels aren’t a great investment. They can be incredibly helpful for the right kind of traveler, you’ll just want to make sure you think this important decision through before throwing all your money at a major change like this. If you have more questions, or if you’re still looking for a new camper, stop by Ryan’s RV Town and let one of our friendly staff know how we can help you. We welcome all current and future RV owners from Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham, WA.